ASEAN has rallied to show support for the Philippines, especially its tourism recovery efforts, since typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda) struck on 8 November.
After consultation with Philippine authorities, ASEAN says that the best way to help the Philippines is to continue with leisure, business and meetings travel to the Philippines as normal.
The ASEAN Secretary General Le Luong Minh, who visited damaged areas in the Philippines on 22 November to witness the distribution of ASEAN aid, said that while the country was still reeling from the impact of Haiyan, “the trademark Filipino hospitality can never be erased by any calamity.”
“The vast majority of the country has been spared from the destruction,” said the Secretary General. “I would therefore like to urge you to visit the Philippines, enjoy yourselves, and show your support for the brave people who are rebuilding their lives. Now is the time to visit the Philippines and make your presence count,” said Mr Minh.
The Philippines Department of Tourism (DOT) and its Tourism Promotion Board (TPB) have launched a series of tours called Bangon Tours where 5% of net income from the trips will be allocated to NGOs supporting Haiyan relief and rebuilding efforts. The Bangon Tours slogan is, “Your Vacation Means a Lot.”
“It is an invitation to travel within the Philippines during the holiday period, visit our fun destinations and participate in rebuilding efforts,” a TPB statement said.
The vast majority of tourism destinations have been unaffected by Haiyan, reported DOT Secretary Ramon R Jimenez Jr. He told the Manila Bulletin on 15 December that “the affected areas did not happen to be touristic areas, except Coron.” He reported that destinations such as Puerto Princess (Palawan), Bohol and Manila were not meaningfully impacted.
“Nothing really happened to Manila so we are going to recover very rapidly, even from Yolanda — from a touristic standpoint. When you count Bohol, the prime tourism offerings have not been affected,” said Mr Jimenez.
As of 10 January 2014, ASEAN and the Philippine authorities report that all airports and airlines are operating normally. As are the popular tourism resorts.
Both ASEAN and the Philippine tourism authorities recommend that tourists and business travellers check the latest official travel advisories and travel agent advise before travelling.
Mr Minh said: “The Philippines has always been a gem in the tourism sector in ASEAN.The beauty and charm of the Philippines is something you should not miss. Now is the time to visit and show your support when they need it most.”
Secretary Jimenez added: “We thank ASEAN Secretary-General Le Luong Minh for rallying member countries and the world to visit and to regain confidence in our country as a safe and enjoyable destination.”